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Coucal, Senegal


Thu Jun 14, 2007 9:21 am Unread post
I have asked Johann to help me out with the following, but I also thought I would pick the brains of other forum birders.

In January I saw the following bird near Biyamiti (the photo was actually also part of a trip report)
Obviously, due to the location, I did not think twice about an ID of Burchell’s Coucal. Somebody else, whom have seen these photos, has now come up with a different suggestion of a Senegal Coucal.
His reasons were the following : “The long tail, crest and wider yellow-white throat alerted me to the possibility...”
I went to have a look again and the tail on my Coucal does seem to make more of a sharp point…another thing is that my Coucal does not appear to have the stripes at the base of its tail.

What are you thoughts?

Image

Image
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Thu Jun 14, 2007 9:36 am Unread post
Jumbo wrote
“The long tail, crest and wider yellow-white throat alerted me to the possibility...”


I have never seen Senegal Coucal, not for lack of trying mind you, but I was not aware that any of those were features used to seperate Burchell's from Senegal. To my knowledge the distinguishing feature would be the barring (or lack thereof) on the rump and tail base.

That said, I think it would be extremely difficult to really see (which accounts for me never ticking the bird) and I think one would need exceptional sightings of the bird to really see that feature.

I don't see any barring on your bird though which might suggest Senegal Coucal but I ould like to see a higher resolution picture before I'd really nail my colours to Senegal Coucal.

One thing is for sure, Biyamiti is WAAAAAY out of range and based purely on that I would not even have considered Senegal Coucal. The odd Senegal Coucal is recorded in the extreme north of the Kruger (Punda to Crook's Corner) but I find it really hard to believe that one could show up at Biyamiti. But then again, birds have wings.




Thu Jun 14, 2007 10:13 am Unread post
The original is unfortunately 2.5Mb and posting that will get some peoples neck hairs jumping up again LOL
I made a crop now of the base of the tail and overly lightened and sharpened the image to try and get any detail out….the light on the original was not wonderful.
I still don’t see any barring.

Image

Here is a photo of Burchell's backside that my husband took (ja, ja much better than mine)
The barring is quite distinctive on the Burchell's. Also what I noticed is his bird has a more rounded tail than my bird.

Image

It is not noted in my book, but does the Burchell's have the barring from an early age….maybe they don’t and my bird is just a young one?



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Thu Jun 14, 2007 10:26 am Unread post
Hmmm, interesting. I'm still hesitant to make a call.

To the best of my knowledge, the immature Burchell's Coucal still shows barring on the tail base and rump. A very young BC will show streaking on the head and throat and I'm pretty sure that, if there is a stage at which BC does not show any barring on the tail base, rump and flanks, t will be very early and the head and throat will then indicate clearly that the bird is very young.

Your bird is obviously an adult and I can't discern any barring where it should be. If you had told me the picture was taken on the Klopperfontein dam road I would have easily gone with Senegal Coucal but the range still bothers me a lot.



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Thu Jun 14, 2007 10:39 am Unread post
As deefstes pointed out the range is way out for this bird but then the baring and lack of it are possibly the only way to tell these two birds apart. Based on range I would say no to Senegal but on close inspection of the tail i'm not too sure either and would not like to confirm an ID. It would be interesting to look at records and find out what the most southerly record of the Senegal is.



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Thu Jun 14, 2007 11:08 am Unread post
JUmbo, if you hadn't said Biyamiti, I would have said Senegal because the bird DOES look like Senegal to me with the dark rump. We have seen Senegal once near Pafuri (EVERYTHING can be seen at Pafuri) but the only other place in SA we have seen it was at Mapungubwe. All books suggest that the southerly limit is the Limpopo.

BTW, your SO's picture shows a young Burchell's (see the white brow).



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Thu Jun 14, 2007 12:30 pm Unread post
Interesting one Jumbo and I've still not made up my mind. As the recent Wilson's Phalarope saga down in the Cape shows, birds does not always keep to the boundaries described in books

I'm linking a Burchell's shot Eric posted in his trip report here showing the baring.
Image




Thu Jun 14, 2007 4:27 pm Unread post
You guys have gotten me even more confused than what I was before :lol:

In all I have 11 shots of this bird, and none of the shot, where the rump is visible, there is any sign of barring….I went through all of them very carefully and will mail it to whomever wish to see it…the originals are unfortunately quite big in size.

As for birds going out of their normal range….the Red-headed Finches that are not suppose to be found in Maputo, are still visiting my garden every now and then, so I suppose it could have happened that a Senegal could have ventured more south than its normal range….BTW, there was actually 2 of them, I only got the shots of one.

In January we had some serious drought in the south…I don’t know about how it was up north and in Zim. I’m also not sure if this would affect these birds, but if it did, maybe they were looking for greener pastures?

PS: Thank j-ms on the tip of how to see if it is a youngster…I did not know that! 8)



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Thu Jun 14, 2007 5:28 pm Unread post
Are then any of your pics that completely show the back, mantle and neck of the bird? In Robert's last night I did find that another distinguishing feature was the mantle. On the Senegal the mantle is the same rusty/rufous or whatever you wanna call it, colour as the wings. On the Burchell's the black from the head extends further down to the mantle if I remember correctly now.
You've got my email address, you can send me any size file. No limits on individual emails.
Will have a look on the pics you've sent me so far if I can seen anything if I get Photoshop going.
On the greener pastures matter. I think the north of the park might have been much greener than the south earlier in the year. Pafuri area didn't seem all that dry early in the year. Limpopo river had lots of water in it.



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Thu Jun 14, 2007 8:08 pm Unread post
I post these pix showing both adult and very young BCs. To me it looks as if the barring is more pronounced in the young bird suggesting that at no stage would BCs be void of barring on their rump feathers. Note as well that the barring extends down onto the tail feathers and those of the lower mantle.

Never seen a Senegal, but would have given this (Jumbo's) bird serious consideration. The state of the tail is not much to go by as generally this bird plumage looks shabby - it may be in a moulting stage.

Image
Adult BC

Image
Young BC



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Fri Jun 15, 2007 9:30 am Unread post
I do not see any reason why the bird is not a Senegal Coucal.

If it was a Burchell's with most of its upper tail gone, one would have expected that at least some of the barred feathers would have remained behind.

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Fri Jun 15, 2007 10:07 am Unread post
OK TG, I'm glad you're saying that because I can not convince myself that this bird is a Burchell's Coucal.

While you're at it, are there any other features that you know of by which Senegal Coucal can be seperated from Burchell's Coucal?

Secondly, you don't seem to be bothered by the locality of this sighting. Would you consider it exraordinary to record Senegal Coucal at Biyamiti or is there something about their distribution that I am not aware of?



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Fri Jun 15, 2007 11:25 am Unread post
I have to agree with TG on this. I've looked at the pics Jumbo sent me. All points to it being a Senegal. Even the tail shape seems the same looking at pics of the Senegal I found on the net. Different (thinner) than the Burchell's.
The only problem would be the distribution as you said Deefstes. But then as we all have said before: Bird have wings, will fly.

Damn nice sighting for the south I'd say.



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Sat Jun 16, 2007 4:25 pm Unread post
Check out this bird shot in Dakar, Senegal: senegal-coucal. Note its clear cut neck as opposed to this bird: link to simplybirding. Though the latter is a imm Burchells; the neck streaking is the same in the adult Burchells.

According to Rowan's The Doves, Parrots, Louries, & Cuckoos of Southern Africa, sight records of the bird in JHB and Dennilton [?] require substantiation [What is substantiation? Photographic proof - what more can you ask for?]. The original Bird Atlas suggests that ALL records from SA are invalid however the Bird Atlas website indicates that the bird does occur well into the north western Limpopo Province and not just possibly along the Limpopo: link to Bird Atlas.

I was reading an article on Simply Birding citing a international site - It was about rarities being blown into the UK from eastern Europe or from the States, or UK birds blown down to Florida in the States. It happens under far more extreme circumstances, why not here?


Last edited by mountainview on Sat Jun 16, 2007 5:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Sun Jun 17, 2007 11:37 am Unread post
Quote
While you're at it, are there any other features that you know of by which Senegal Coucal can be seperated from Burchell's Coucal?


The main feature used to distinguish Senegal from Burchell's is the absence of upper tail and rump barring. Senegal is slightly smaller with richer chestnut upper parts, and the black of the head and nape does not extend as far down on the mantle as Burchell's, but these features are all somewhat subjective and should not be used to confirm the identification.

Quote
Secondly, you don't seem to be bothered by the locality of this sighting. Would you consider it exraordinary to record Senegal Coucal at Biyamiti or is there something about their distribution that I am not aware of?


It is very extraordinary to record Senegal at Biyamiti, and a rarities report should be submitted. As far as I am aware of there have been sightings along the Limpopo river in SA, and even in northern Kruger, but I don't know if any have been substantiated by photographs (or specimens!). It may be that low numbers Senegal occur in the lowveld, and are overlooked, or that low numbers move south from Zim during periods of unfavourable conditions.

TG
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